A record 5.4 million workers and their dependents joined federal disability rolls since President Barack Obama took charge of the Oval Office, according to newly released official data reported by Investors.com
The significant spurt of growth in enrollment is not only straining the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) trust fund — which is already headed for bankruptcy — it's ramping up costs for Medicare as well, because SSDI enrollees can qualify for Medicare after two years.
Remarkably, since June 2009, the number of new enrollees to Social Security's disability insurance program is twice the much- touted job growth figure, according to Investors.com. In the first four months of this year alone, 539,000 joined the disability rolls while more than 725,000 put in applications.
The recent surge is said to be caused by the slow pace of the recovery after the recession, Investors.com reports. This has created a large pool of long-term unemployed and discouraged workers.
"We see a lot of people applying for disability once their unemployment insurance expires," says Matthew Rutledge, a research economist at Boston College's Center for Retirement Research.
Reform ideas include tightening eligibility rules, giving workers options other than full-time disability and offering tax incentives for disabled workers to stay in the workforce.
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